Without The Darkness, And Without The Storms…

Some days are good, many are great, and some feel insurmountably uphill. I really do try my best to see the world as “I’m thankful I have a glass” as opposed to “it’s half empty or half full,” because I actually do harbor that much gratitude – life is a gift on every level.

On the tough days, though, I give myself so hard a time it’s nigh unconscionable. While I have uncovered the part I had to play in some disastrous situations of the past, it is also important to remember that I didn’t deserve bad things…and neither was I the cause. It is important that we ALL remember that – we are nothing more than a bundle of experiences and lenses colored by those experiences. It isn’t always easy to step back – recovery takes a lifetime, not just a handful of years.

It’s also important to be gentle with ourselves for our shortcomings – many of which, I daresay, we are neither proud of nor want! Frankly, I’d love to not have some of the conditioned responses I have. As a person who knows I have a choice in everything surrounding ME (my attitude, my actions, my inactions, my REactions, my responses…) it frustrates me to the hilt that I am unable to “will away” the things I do that I can’t stand. That said, I’m also not less of a person because I struggle…and neither are you.

While I am acutely aware that without a “yang” there is no “yin,” I sometimes need a reminder. A friend today gave me one such virtual hug… Without the storms and darkness, we aren’t able to have or appreciate the calm or the light in life. I really believe that both are necessary, and that product of both is a life that is collectively more (far more!) beautiful than it is not. . .


“Progress, not perfection” as it goes… I don’t have a right to judge myself or anyone else – I know deep down that I try to be better each day, and I know (in advance) that I won’t always be able to make that mark. In spite of human flaws and fragility, I see so much good in the world. Through the words and support of others, I also have the comfort of knowing I am not alone, and that the personal difficulties I have weathered in my own life (or how I have been affected and altered by those experiences) are also not so strange and unusual. In fact, far from it…

Some days I need a spiritual hug. Others, I require room to breathe… Overall, though, patience, positivity, and understanding are always welcome, and I’m thankful to have that in my life. What a joy to know that the journey is one we never have to make alone, and that the darkness will always give way to light.

Things Are…And Aren’t…What They Appear To Be

I posted these photos on Instagram because, as an athlete, I’m often around other people exercising, aiming for fitness or sport goals, or in a sports class. Our goals, our aesthetics, our abilities, and our priorities are all different and I make a HUGE point to remind people that comparison is never a helpful tactic. But when I say that, I don’t just mean comparison to other people – what they have or don’t have, how they look or don’t look. . .  – I also mean that we need to be gentle with ourselves

Our own mirrors, cameras, eyeballs (!). . .can tell very different stories simply based on angle and lighting. Hell, time of DAY can make a difference too – did you just have a huge glass of water? Have you eaten three meals already? Are you a woman dealing with cyclical change?

Sometimes people say very kind things, but they say them in a way as if to put themselves down… That makes me crazy. We all have room for improvement, but we also all have a lot to be proud of. When we see images of people in “perfect” shape it’s easy to be hard on ourselves – because I’ve grown up in sports (which I consider a great thing!) I also have the side effect of always wanting to achieve. To – absolutely – my own detriment sometimes!

What we ourselves (a highly visual species) post on social media generally portrays the happy, the fun, the good, the ideal “stuff”…but not as much the rough patches, the blemishes, the mistakes. As with everything, we all have our own reasons for that…and tons OF them. For some of us, we look to one another for inspiration and motivation. We also like to share funny and personal tidbits along the way – we are connected to friends, after all. But it’s important not to forget the human element, and that there is more to what we see.

Lately, I’ve gone easier – I was down and out with a cold, I’ve been struggling with a back problem…it’s just been harder to push myself to the limit. BUT…I’m doing okay. I’m healthy and have a LOT to be thankful for (I’m serious, I could write a monster gratitude list off the cuff.)

Being off my game doesn’t mean I’m suddenly a horrible person or I’m not still doing a good job! I make little jabs at myself (NOT nice and NOT a good habit, ps – I work on that every day) but I’m never going back to depriving myself. Fortunately when I was doing that, I didn’t think I looked well at all, and it was not the result of wanting to change my figure. Still, that unhealthy propensity is there and it takes daily reminders sometimes that my own EYES can deceive me…just like yours and everyone else’s can. 

Social media definitely doesn’t help that case so I think showing that appearances are easy to alter is a positive thing. It’s okay to post the good and happy and pulled-together…but just don’t forget that everyone has imperfections. Lighting and angles also play a big part – both for good and for not-so-good. We aren’t getting professionally airbrushed like celebrities in Vogue (well, maybe some are!) but there’s still room for focal shifts!

 

 

Perspective – When My Attitude Flares Up, How I Tone It Down, and Why I Should

MOST of the time I *try* to be a decent human being.  I try to reflect on my behaviors – good, bad, and ugly – and to conduct myself in an upstanding way as much as I can.

I ALSO fall short plenty!

As human beings, we are subject to more influences than I think we ever want to admit (hell, even the moon has me all off kilter when it’s full!) We are subject to changes in mood, for so many reasons that it would be nigh impossible to list them all.  But that’s okay.  We are allowed to ebb and flow, because that is just the nature of life.  We don’t have to be perfect all the time, and even if we have some grandiose notion that we’d like to be. . .it doesn’t always play out that way.

But the other day a thought came to mind that stopped me right in the middle of my “if-the-car-in-front-of-me-doesn’t-speed-up-I’m-going-to-go-nuts!” rant.  It was such a jarring thought that my attitude shifted. Instantaneously.  

I have the wonderful fortune of volunteering with children with disabilities with two organizations – I’ve never found something that lit my heart quite as much (and that’s saying a LOT, as I am a truly passionate person about my life, my activities, and the careers I have had.) I love the kids, and I love meeting their parents – learning about them, their individualities, and what makes them happy, is an overwhelming joy.

So as I was having this moment of “can’t stand anyone” (and I think it was in reaction to a woman tailgating on the highway and giving me the middle finger, despite that I had no idea what I did to warrant it) I thought to myself. . .

What if the person in that car who I’m getting all flustered because of, or at, was one of the parents of the kids I get to work with?  Would I act the same way?

Resounding NO.

I wasn’t *trying* to give myself a guilt trip, or make myself feel badly.  When my behavior deviates – and I think it’s fair to say, as adults, we generally know when we are being unreasonable and inappropriate with our reactions (should we choose to be honest with ourselves!) – I am aware of it.  I do try to correct myself and in effort to curb poor actions, I have said to myself everything from “you never know who has a weapon!” “you can’t take back what you say,” to “that really doesn’t make me a good person to flip someone off”…!

Doesn’t always seem to calm me down, though!  

But. . .the thought that it *could be* someone in a situation such as the families whose children I work with shut me down pronto.

I would never want to behave that way with one of them.  And when I think about it, I can’t imagine I really want to act that way with ANYone.  What does reacting poorly say about me anyway? Nothing grand, I assure you!

When I think about it, it makes me feel sad that I would allow temporary emotions to overcome me in such a way that I lash out – in any regard.  As a human being, I know it is bound to happen, and that expecting myself to be Miss. Goody Twoshoes is NOT realistic.  But because I don’t know what other people are facing, and because I also know how blessed I am, I appreciated the supernal reminder. . .which stopped me from getting angry, or for the woman who flipped me off to ruin more than the few seconds of my day during which she did so.

I know I’m going to fall short sometimes, but that moment was one I know I will remember. . .

I have the blessing to work with those who have a journey fraught with challenges, and I LOVE the work because I have the opportunity to make lives better. To behave poorly as a result of flared emotions is to contribute in a negative way, and I will suffer personally when I choose that route.  The only thing that would make it worse is to also hurt someone else who didn’t deserve it to begin with…and I’d say I don’t really want to decide that someone deserves any of that.

 

Knowing Is Half The Battle

People are complicated – even when you make every effort to empathize, to walk in another person’s shoes, putting aside the urge to respond negatively, some people are painfully impossible to deal with.  

When we understand the notion that another person’s response and (re)actions are effectively a result of their place in their own evolution (which cannot rightly be compared to ours or anyone else’s) it is far easier to deal with them.

While I *want* to take the path of gentle kindness, absence of judgment, 100% positivity…I don’t always.  I’m human!  But imagine, then, how easily I set up the disappointments in expecting others to meet me on that plane – if I really want to be those things with every fiber of my being and I still fall short too, it seems I’m expecting a bit (a lot!) too much of everyone else.

That doesn’t mean to say behaviors are excused, that I don’t have a right to expect a certain level of decency, for example, or for someone to live up to basic standards.  What I mean is that if I understand others aren’t on my wavelength, it makes letting things go, and moving on, a whole lot easier.  It helps me to recognize that I operate at a different vibration, in other words, which gives a lot less power to other people…and puts more (potentially all of it, wouldn’t that be nice!) in my hands.

No one else has a right to ruin my mood – I let it happen sometimes, and that’s on me.  When I change my view, and recognize that, while a lot of people have done some hard-work-soul-searching…probably more people haven’t.

To face oneself is one of the bravest things anyone can do, but it doesn’t occur to people naturally all the time… We live amidst an increasingly mindful existence in some ways, and a horribly (and rapidly-occurring) detached one in others. If people haven’t “met themselves” on a deeper level, they simply aren’t capable of meeting you at your vibrationally higher altitude.

It may be a challenge to disassociate and detach from others when their behaviors fall short in our eyes…but when we learn to do it, we can live a much more peaceful existence.  I’ve worked on this one for a long time, and I’ve got many moons and miles yet to go – but progress is progress and knowing is absolutely half (or more) or the battle.

SaveSave

Why “Be Positive” Isn’t the Best Advice When You’re Down, By Michael James

This article – Why “Be Positive” Isn’t the Best Advice When You’re Down, By Michael James – came to me via Tiny Buddha and I had to share.

To add a spoiler, I’m not necessarily backing up the article because I think meditation (specifically) is the end-all-be-all necessarily – phenomenal it can be, everyone is different, and meditation is both a highly individual, and incredibly varied practice.  But I DO like a lot of what is said (and do like meditation personally), and I appreciate that Mr. James is willing to say “positivity” isn’t always what’s needed.

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-3-39-15-pm

I’m a positive person but that does NOT mean:

  • That I’m peachy 24 / 7
  • That I don’t make judgements
  • That I’m not an inherently flawed human being

Trust me, I am.  I make mistakes ALL the time.  I * try * to see sun and roses, but there’s plenty of rain and storm clouds too.  While I’ve been mistaken as someone who presents only that happy image, I’ve never been anything but honest about the fact that I am as much a tempest as Mother Nature – some days you don’t know what you will get.  I’ve felt badly enough about it in the past to land myself in some very abusive situations, but. . .  While I have a long way to go, I no longer fundamentally think there’s something “wrong with” me because I feel so deeply.  

As an Empath I respect this idea that some days the LAST thing you want to hear is “BE POSITIVE!” (*insert friend with annoyingly feigned smile here*)  While of course I (and anyone who might chime in with the phrase) am *trying* to be helpful, it may not necessarily be the best default. . .

img_9883

Sometimes you just don’t damn well feel like it, and that’s MORE than okay.  I’ve had a problem with minimizing, justifying, and avoiding the act of “feeling” in the past – some days it’s more important to sit with the discomfort to get to the root of things. 

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-3-38-01-pm

Two of the things stood out most for me from the article: 

“Like Instagram and other forms of social media, this “positive thinking” movement seems to be about living up to an ideal standard of perceived perfection all the time. Not satisfied with looking “perfect,” now you’ve got to think perfectly, too.”

True.  Scary.  Thank you for putting this solidly in verbal terms!

and. . .

“…authentic masters understood that negative thinking is part of the human journey, and that it’s okay to feel less than your best sometimes. And they also knew that it’s a quick route to self-hatred to expect any more of yourself.”

Thank you, again, for reminding that it’s okay to feel whatever emotions we feel.  There is not right, and no wrong.  We are allowed.

So yes. . .I love the designation of “professional cheerer-upper” that some friends and family have given me.  I feel honored and blessed by the compliment – right or wrong, I identify with bringing joy to others.  BUT…  BUT.  I’ve got my sad, grumpy, frustrated, gloomy, and altogether dark days too (article on that, by Madisyn Taylor.)  I’ve had to do a TON of work to recognize that it is not only okay to feel those things…but also to not want to “be positive” for a time.  

If all we ever saw was the sun (or that was all we were TOLD to see) then it wouldn’t be such a glorious thing, would it? There’d be no special positivity associated with its warmth or energy at all – so then what’s the point?  

No….I’ll take some showers along the way, and expose my soul to the rain when I need to.  Sometimes, that’s exactly what it needs – the positivity will find its way, not to worry.